Hosting guest writers on your blog is a great way to give yourself a break from blogging and give your readers another perspective, says freelance writer and blogger Susan Johnston.
But, guest bloggers don’t give you the freedom to take a total vacation from your blog…
“I thought I’d have a break when I solicited guest bloggers to cover my vacation last year,” says Johnston. “The reality is that guest bloggers do require involvement from the host blogger, but it’s a different kind of involvement from writing your own posts.”
Read on for Johnston’s tips for inviting guest bloggers to write for you – and check out the IT Girl’s Guide to Blogging with Moxie by Joelle Reeder and Katherine Scoleri for ideas on writing edgy and quirky blog posts.
5 Tips for Inviting Guest Bloggers
This is a guest post from blogger and freelance writer Susan Johnston.
Despite the involvement having guest bloggers takes, I still think it’s a worthwhile collaboration. It gives you a taste of what it’s like to be an editor and it’s a way to form friendships with other bloggers. Often, you get a nice spike in traffic from the guest blogger’s readers and followers.
Here’s how to make guest blogging work for your blog….
1. Make your expectations clear. When I posted a call for guest bloggers on my site earlier this year, I included a requested word count and the guideline that all guest posts be related to blogging, freelancing, and/or writing. That saved me from sorting through posts that were either too long or totally off topic. Sometimes guest bloggers email me a couple of ideas they’re tossing around and let me help them choose. I always like to get ideas rather than a “what should I write about?” email.
2. Set a deadline. Once you’ve agreed to a topic, you should also agree to a deadline. Initially, I was hesitant to set deadlines, because I wasn’t paying guest bloggers, and I didn’t want them to stress about it, especially at the expense of paying projects. But I’ve found that most people really do need deadlines to get stuff done, and this helps me to plan my posting schedule. I’m not that strict about it, but I do appreciate when people follow through. You would be surprised how many bloggers contact me, agree to a topic, and then I never hear from them again! (If you struggle to come up with ideas, read What Should I Blog About? Tips for Bloggers Who Have No Ideas).
3. Reserve the right to edit. Even though the guest blog post carries someone else’s name, it’s on your blog, so typos or incorrect word usage will reflect poorly on your blog’s brand. Most guest bloggers will be grateful if you correct a typo (after all, it’s their byline), but changing syntax or tone gets into a gray area. I usually err on the side of under-editing guest posts, because I don’t want to stomp out another writer’s voice, but I do try to work with the writer so the post is something we’re both proud of. Usually, I’ll email the blogger with proposed revisions and explain why I’d like to make the changes. So far, this system seems to work.
4. Give credit where credit is due. When readers are used to reading posts written by a certain person, they sometimes assume that a guest post was written by you. I try to prevent this by titling all guest posts as such and including the blogger’s name at the top and the bottom of the post (though Blogger still says it was posted by me because I formatted the post). I also ask guest bloggers for a bio line so that readers can visit their blog, check out their website, or follow them on Twitter. Whenever I’m promoting a guest blog on Twitter, I also include the guest blogger’s Twitter handle if they have one.
5. Send out the link. I usually tell guest bloggers when they should expect to see their post, then send out the link once it’s live (though I don’t always remember to do this if I’m on deadline or on vacation). This gives me a chance to thank them for the post, and often guest bloggers will forward the link to friends, post it on their own blog, or spread the word via Twitter. (For more info on Twitter for writers, read Twitter Benefits for Freelance Writers).
If you’re still unsure about hosting guest bloggers, another strategy is to post Q & As. This allows you to showcase other bloggers or notable people in your niche but gives you a bit more control than completely opening the floor to guest bloggers. Hmm… maybe next time I should blog about Q & As.
Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer and blogger who has covered business and lifestyle topics for The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, DailyCandy.com, Yahoo! HotJobs, and many other publications. Want to know more? check out The Urban Muse or follow her on Twitter.
Susan also contributed 5 Tips for Developing Your Writer’s Voice, here on Quips & Tips for Successful Writers.
Have you hosted guest bloggers on your blog — and do you have any tips or questions?